Madikeri: After the Congress released its first list of 218 candidates for the upcoming Karnataka Assembly election, the party has put its contentious pick for the Madikeri seat on hold. The lawyer for absconding businessman Mehul Choksi, H.S. Chandramouli, had originally been given a ticket by the party to contest the election from Madikeri.
Sources within the Congress said that the Madikeri seat had been put on hold after reports that the candidate Chandramouli had been Choksi’s — a key accused in the Punjab National Bank fraud case — lawyer. When the first list was released, Supreme Court advocate and Media Co-ordinator for Congress in Karnataka Brijesh Kalappa was reportedly annoyed at having lost his seat to a newcomer.
Brijesh Kalappa regretted the party choosing Chandramouli who had joined Congress just two years back and also lost an MLC election within that period. “I will try for Gram Panchayat next time,” he had said sarcastically.
In his defence, Chandramouli said: “As a senior advocate I have fought cases for Yeddyurappa, K.G. Bopaiah and others, irrespective of which party they belonged to. It is my duty to take up cases without bias. Even in the Mehul Choksi case, I had challenged the Court’s decision of carrying out a CID investigation after the B-Report was filed. This was my only involvement. Does this make me a criminal?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Chandramouli, who was busy campaigning in Madikeri on Tuesday, was summoned to Bengaluru party office by KPCC President Dr. G. Parameshwara. Chandramouli said: “I have learnt that the party has withheld my ticket and it is because of propagated self-interests of some party workers. However, I am hopeful of convincing the high command.”
He too got vocal about Brijesh Kalappa’s accusations and replied: “He had been a Legal Advisor to the government in the Cauvery panel. What has he done other than that?”
Chandramouli accused Brijesh Kalappa of conspiring and influencing Congress to withhold the Madikeri ticket. He added that he was given the ticket by the party without any lobbying and he will work for the progress of the party irrespective of how the events turn out to be.
Meanwhile, using this opportunity, Congress ticket aspirants from Madikeri including Brijesh Kalappa, Napanda Muthappa, K.P. Chandrakala, Kumuda Dharmappa and K.M. Lokesh have begun their hectic lobbying to secure a party ticket.
Sources said that all the ticket aspirants are camping in Bengaluru and meeting the party leaders. Some of the aspirants including K.M. Lokesh and Napanda Muthappa have argued that the party had erred in fielding Chandramouli. Lokesh has claimed that he has been working for the Congress since 18 years and he has been ignored. Muthappa and Chandrakala too have stated that they have been trying to convince the leaders to grant them tickets.
Fate of sitting Virajpet BJP MLA too hangs in balance
Even sitting BJP MLA from Virajpet K.G. Bopaiah, is facing the same predicament as advocate Chandramouli. Bopaiah has not yet got the ticket for the party and his name did not even figure in the first and second list.
As a sitting MLA and former Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly from 2009 to 2013, Bopaiah should have been a natural pick for the party from Virajpet.
Party sources, however, said that this time there is a stiff opposition from the people of Virajpet against Bopaiah. People of the constituency are against Bopaiah as they feel that he has done little for the constituency and did not stand up for them when destructive development projects, including the high-tension power line from Mysuru to Kerala, was implemented where over 50,000 trees were cut.
Instead of Bopaiah, the people of the constituency want the BJP to give ticket to Machimada Ravindra, the former President of Kodagu BJP.
Ravindra, an engineering graduate, has come up from the ranks of Vishwa Hindu Parishat.
Meanwhile, speaking to Star of Mysore, Bopaiah said, “I don’t know about the tickets and I have not met party State President B.S. Yeddyurappa, lobbying for tickets. The party leaders must answer why the candidate for Virajpet has not been announced yet.”